In Loving Memory of Laurene Williams Hall

564487738_aFJSU-S

On Monday, May 25th, 2009 Laurene Williams Hall died of natural causes.  This weekend, on Saturday June 20th, she was laid to rest in the Ammon Cemetery in Ammon, Idaho. She is survived by her three children and their families, Jonna Lhyn, Jeremy Lee and Jason Lyle Hall; and her two brothers, Duane and Ron Williams, and their families.

I am honored and pleased to have known Lauri for 10 and a half years.  She was a wonderful woman full of wit and humor and selfless love for her family.  Her greatest joys were in spending time with her family and serving others.  Lauri was very intelligent and a wealth of knowledge that she shared freely.  I learned more about sewing, gardening and family history from Lauri than I have from any other person!  Not to mention current events.  Lauri read the newspaper from front to back everyday.  I was always amazed at how Lauri was able to remember the smallest details about my interests and the interests of those that she came in contact with.  Whenever we were together, she would constantly ask about me and my activities and then at seemingly random times she would remind me of a conversation we had had days or weeks before and ask how that particular project was going.  I was usually really hard pressed to get Lauri to talk about herself.  But when I could, she would tell me all the stories she could remember about her time as  a child and Jim (her husband) and of course, about her children.  I will never forget the smile she would get when given the chance to reminisce about the past.

I know that the last couple years of her life were difficult for her and she was not very happy with her circumstances.  But through all the trials she was able to keep her head up and doggedly push through the tough times.  She would always say to me and anyone else who tried to help her that she “didn’t want to be a burden.”  Well, Lauri, I hope you know now how much you were NOT a burden to me and how much I love you!  Serving Lauri has given me a new perspective on life.  The love that is given and gained in service is unlike any other kind of love in the world.  It is deep, and full of understanding and tender admiration for the strength of spirit of those we succor.  Lauri has taught me that life is not complete without this kind of love.

I return from this weekend with a spirit that is lightened and grateful for Lauri’s presence in my life.  I find myself with a feeling of emptiness each day as the time comes and goes without having spoken to Lauri.  She has been such a constant in my life since Jason and I married that it is very strange to not have her here anymore.  Neither Jason or I are very teary people, but the tears seem to come unbidden and at random times lately.  My poor husband, has lost his mother in addition to his father now, at a very early age and I marvel at his courage and faith through this hard time.  The services were wonderful.  There was a time at the end for family and friends to get up and share their thoughts and memories of Lauri and her life.  I loved this!  Between the memories that were shared and the things we have found in her house after her passing, I have come to know Lauri in an even newer light and I cannot wait to see her again so that we can talk and laugh together unhindered by the problems of this world.  I know she is healthy and happy now being back with her beloved husband and though I will miss her dearly, I am glad that she has finally found peace.

See you soon Lauri!

Though the weekend brought us together under sad circumstances, it was really great to see family we haven’t seen in a long time!  Years in some cases!  We arrived in Idaho Falls Friday evening and went right to Ron’s shop so that Ron and Jason could make the urn.  Ron made Lauri’s Urn out of stainless steel and did a great job!  While they were working on that, I took the kids to a nearby park and we played for about an hour.  It was a great park that had everything from a huge sand box to musical instruments to swings and a gigantic play set.  The kids had a ball.  By the end though, Mom was sure ready to go to the hotel!  We picked up Jason from Ron’s shop and went to the hotel were we met up with Jeremy and Heather and Granny Deanie.  Dinner was from Cafe Rio and after we ate, the kids and Jeremy and Jason swam.  Heather (luckily :)) forgot her Sunday clothes, so she just had to go shopping!  She let me tag along with her and we had a fabulous night at Kohls and Target.   The kids were going to sleep when we got back so Jason and Jeremy and I sat in the lobby and talked until late.  It was fun!

Saturday was a nice sunny day in the morning and after breakfast we all headed over to the cemetery.  The flowers were delivered and the chairs were set up and at just after 11am the services started.  It got steadily cooler as the services went on, but luckily it stayed dry until we were getting in the cars at the end.  Perfect timing!  After the services, we all headed over to Smitty’s, the traditional family gathering place, for a brunch.  The food was excellent and the conversation was even better.  After Smitty’s we took the kids swimming for a while and Jonna and Eric joined us.  We all swam, played, dunked, and tossed each other for about an hour and a half.  I think Jeremy and Jason are still bleeding from the girls long fingernails. 🙂  As for me, I got so cold at the services and in Smitty’s that the warm spa water was heavenly and I had a hard time leaving it to play!

After swimming, Jeremy and Jason headed over to Duane’s for some more family talk time, and Heather and I stayed at the hotel with the kids so they could all talk in peace.  We ordered a pizza and watched a movie and then went to bed!  Sunday we got up and dressed early so that we could go to church with Duane.  With everything happening this weekend, I forgot it was Father’s day until they announced it.  Don’t worry, I told Jason we would celebrate next weekend under better circumstances. 🙂  The speakers were excellent and the kids were quite for the most part. It probably seemed that way to me because Jason spent half the meeting in the hallway with Brynn.  What  a good daddy!  After church we checked out of the hotel and then went for a walk around Idaho Falls and took some fun pictures.  Thanks for the photography tutorial and letting me borrow your lens Jeremy!  I totally need to get me one of those! 🙂  The last thing we did was meet a Duane’s again for some lunch before we headed out to come home.

All in all the weekend was good and I am so grateful that we were able to spend so much time with our family!  The drive home was pleasant, I read while Jason drove.  He came home and crashed, can’t say that I blame him!

Mother’s Day

I have to say that this was a FABULOUS Mother’s Day!  It started off with my 5k (see previous post) and just got better from there.  🙂  When I got home from the 5k, I was surprised by Jason and the kids with a bucket load of flowers to fill all my pots and planter beds with; including a beautiful hanging basket full of petunia’s and a lawn chair so that I can sit out in the back yard and enjoy the weather comfortably while I watch the kids play. 🙂  So I spent the day in the yard planting all my flowers and I have to say, I have quite a bit of yard pride now!  It makes me excited to finish all the projects we have planned so that I can fully enjoy the yard for the rest of the year.  It is great how much more I love the yard when I put hard work into it.

After I planted most of the flowers, Jason and I took the kids to my nephew Taylors 13th birthday BBQ at Jeremy and Heathers house.  It was really fun.  Heather provided sloppy Joes and some excellent cake.  All the neighbors, friends and family who came each brought a side dish to share.  This has become a tradition for them when Taylors birthday comes around.  I love it!  The weather, which had been wonderful and hot all day, cooled off just for the BBQ.  Cooled off a little too much.  Most of us were cold n our t-shirts and shorts, but even with the cold wind. it was a great time!  Happy Birthday Taylor!!

On Sunday, Jason REALLY pampered me by taking the kids and letting me sleep in until 9am!!  I woke up a new woman with more energy than I really new what to do with.  Even despite the fact that my legs were so sore I kept waking up all night long. 🙂  Then, while the kids watched a Veggie Tales movie, Jason and I had a lovely breakfast on our deck with all our newly planted flower pots and talked about our future yard plans.  At church, it got even better.  The last hour of church, the bishopric gathered all the women in the ward and had the men take over their responsibilities.  This means, that for me, I didn’t have to teach my primary class.  🙂  They took all of us into the gym area where there were tables (complete with nice table cloths) set up and they served us cake and cheese cake!  It was fabulous!  After church, we again went to Jeremy and Heathers and had dinner.  Jason made steak fajitas for us and Heather provided a strawberry salad, strawberry and goat cheese baguettes for appetizer, stuffed potatoes, and then Dulce de Leche cake with strawberries on top for dessert.  Of course, it was fabulous!!  The day ended perfectly.

I love mother’s day!  I feel very appreciated and loved and I am so grateful for my family!  I love every minute I get to spend with them.  I am so grateful for my husband who is so thoughtful and understanding of my needs.  He is my best friend and I couldn’t live without him!  Thank you Sweetie!!!

5K Fun Run

On Saturday, I ran a 5k with my best friend Michelle.  It was a total blast!  The race was put on by a private school in American Fork called the American Legacy Academy.  It was the perfect little community run.  There were about 50 runners, give or take a few and the course was perfect.  Mostly flat with a little bit of incline and small hill at the end.  The registration was quick and thorough.  I was impressed with the efficiency of the volunteers at the end of the race.  As I crossed the finished line, they called out my time, took my bib number and moved on to the next person in a matter of seconds.  The time they called out was exactly the time on my personal stop watch as well.  The refreshments were good and Michelle even won a shirt at the raffle!

The best part of the race was that both Michelle and I made our personal best times!  Michelle took 7 and a half minutes off our fastest practice run time and finished at 32.37!!  I took about a minute off my personal best and came in at 22.09!  I am proud to say that I also came in 2nd overall for the women and 1st in my age group.  I even got a trophy!  I have been running in races since 9th grade and this is my first ever running trophy.  I have lots of medals, but the trophy is a new thing and much appreciated!  I would like to thank the American Legacy Academy for their hard work and the fun morning!

I have walked away from this run with a renewed determination to break some more personal records this summer.  I was, until now, just training for a half with Michelle for the fun of it.  But we are planning on running several other 5k’s and a 10k this summer.  I have found a nice intermediate training schedule on Cool Running that I am going to attempt to do while also training with Michelle.  Obviously, I will have to modify it so that I don’t run myself into the ground, but it should be a fun summer!  If all goes well,  I will be in really good shape at the end of the summer and I can attempt a more advanced training schedule for the LA marathon in 2010.

Lightroom is Awesome!

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a workshop on Lightroom taught by Scott Jarvie.  I am just getting to know Scott through Jason; my brother-in-law, Jeremy and Twitter.  He is a well known wedding photographer in Utah and extremely generous in the sharing of his knowledge for amateurs like myself.  🙂

The workshop was free and hosted at East Bay Studios in Provo.  There were about 50 people in attendance and most of us were new to Lightroom.  In fact, several people downloaded the free, trial version of Lightroom right at the workshop.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my laptop with me so I was forced to write down my thoughts on paper and bring them home for future reference.  Scott did an awesome job teaching the basics.  He has a great sense of humor that made the time both instructional and entertaining.

I am really new to the photography stage and I am just beginning to understand the importance of a good photo processing program.  However, I like things to be simple.  Photoshop has always seemed extremely complicated to me.  After last night, I think I will be investing in Lightroom.  Scott briefly went over the whole of Lightroom and explained the 5 modules, but spent the majority of the time teaching us about the Library and Develop modules.  I found it all very user friendly and self-explanatory.  Scott told us in the beginning that he wanted to teach us the basics so that we would be able to go home and use that knowledge to solve our own problems.  He accomplished his goal.  I feel that I have a very good base to get started in editing my photos.

I was pleased that he took the time to explain some seemingly very basic things to the group that I didn’t have a very clear picture of, even though I am sure the majority of the people there already understood these concepts.  Things like, what exactly a preset is and the difference between a raw photo and a jpeg.   As I said earlier, I think Photoshop is complicated, but I was happy to learn that Lightroom can be used in conjunction with Photoshop should the need arise.  And I LOVE the ease and organization Lightroom provides to speed up and enhance work flow.

Half way through the night, everyone had the opportunity to pitch in for pizza and root beer floats.  The food was good and the conversation was even better.  I just want to thank Scott for his time and willingness to share his expertise and help us to learn what fun photography can be!  I also want to thank East Bay Studios for their hospitality!

Scott is teaching an intermediate workshop on Lightroom Thursday night at 7.  You can get all the info from Scott’s blog.  I am looking forward to attending and learning as much as I can from one of Utah’s most talented photographers!

Home-Made Butter: Worth it?

A couple nights ago, after the kids went to bed, Jason and I sat up reading for an hour or two.  I was reading one of my favorite novels and he was reading something a bit more practical.  His book was called “Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills.”  Now, those of you who know my husband know that this is a totally normal thing for him to be reading.  But he made a comment that there is a recipe in the book for home made butter.  And cream cheese.  It peeked my interest and made me curious.  So I decided to give it a try.  I had no idea how long it was going to take so I wasn’t really planning on trying it for a while.  You know, plan a day when I would have time and when I knew the kids would have other entertainments besides following my every footstep.  However, last week, as many know, we were home bound with my poor little Garion sick in bed with the flu.  What better time to experiment in the kitchen than when you can’t go anywhere.  Turns out, making butter is the easiest thing I have ever done in the kitchen.

The first thing I did was google a recipe for home made butter, made with the Kitchen Aid.  I have a great deal of respect for the women in the old days who use to churn it by hand, but I just don’t have that kind of time or motivation when we have been blessed with modern technology.  🙂  I found a recipe almost immediately on Recipezaar.  The exact link is http://www.recipezaar.com/Homemade-Butter-for-the-Kitchen-Aid-199638.  My next step, after reading the ridiculously simple instructions was to go to the store to buy whipping cream.  However, since Garion was still not really out of bed, I had Jason stop at the store on his way home.  After the kids went to bed, we made our butter.

Step One:  Pour whipping cream into Kitchen Aid with a couple granules kosher salt.  We bought a pint of cream, but only used half of it.)

Step Two: Turn on Medium to High speed.  (Take a nap.)

Step Three: After about fifteen minutes, the butter forms and separates from the buttermilk.  Turn off Kitchen Aid.  We got a bit more than 1/2 cup butter.  Which is also 4 oz or 1/4 pound.  About a rounded spoonful more.

*You can stop here if you want to.  Take your butter out and store in an air tight container.  However, we continued because I wanted to keep the buttermilk to make cinnamon rolls with.

Step Four: Squeeze butter in cheesecloth to remove the last of the buttermilk.  We got 1 cup of buttermilk.

Step Five: Enjoy!

The butter turned out pretty good.  It tastes like butter. 🙂  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was just normal butter.  I was proud of us and happy that we could make it and have it be every bit as good as what we can buy in the store.  I think next time I will add just a bit more salt.  I also think the butter would be better if we used farmers cream instead of the pasteurized stuff from the store.  But I will have to do some research to figure out where to get my hands on that kind of cream.  There are enough farmers in our area here that I am sure it can’t be too hard.

Jason and I were also speculating on the cost comparison of home made butter to store bought butter.  One pint of cream will yield about 1/4 pound of butter and about 1 cup buttermilk.  At our local grocer right now you can get one pound or 16oz of Land O Lakes butter (on sale) for $1.99.  A quart of buttermilk at the store costs about $2.85.   So to buy one pound of store made butter and 2 cups of buttermilk you are spending about $4.85.  Our local grocer also has regular 10 for $10 sales where the whipping cream goes on sale, bu I can’t remember if it is the pints or the quarts that go on sale.  If you wait for the sale, and buy your cream at $1 per pint (if it is the pints that go on sale), then you can get a little more than 1/4 pound of butter  and 1 cup buttermilk for $1.  Which then equals 16 oz or 1 pound butter and 4 cups buttermilk for $4.  That is a pretty good deal.  A little more cost on the butter, but twice as much buttermilk and then your homemade bread (or cinnamon rolls in our case) are that much better!

Anyway, it is completely dependant on the sales on whipping cream, but if you can find the cream at the right price, it is worth making the butter.  It is so simple and really pretty fun!  The left over buttermilk is an added bonus.  Enjoy!

Influenza? For Real??

Let me start this post by saying that when I think of the flu, I think of a runny nose and headache, maybe a fever and stomach ache possibly diarrhea and anything else that can go wrong with our bodies from a virus.  How many times do people get the “flu” and it is actually influenza?  Hardly ever.  At least in my experience, never.  I have only know one person ever who had the “flu” and it actually turned out to be influenza.  Everyone else was sick, but it was a virus of some sort or other that we all call the “flu” because we don’t know what else to call it.  Now I know two people who had the flu and it turned out to be the real thing.  Who knew?

On Monday morning, Garion woke up and got ready for school.  I have taken to sleeping in until about 7:20 lately, so he is usually dressed and eating breakfast by the time I make it to the kitchen.  As was the case Monday morning.  But he didn’t look right.  His clothes matched and his hair was brushed, but something was off.  He was really pale and kind of slouched over his bowl of cinnamon toast crunch.  Which was almost untouched.  Totally weird!  I asked if he was okay and he sad his head hurt.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time believing Garion these days when he says he doesn’t feel good.  It has become one of his favorite excuses to get out of school work, chores or anything else he doesn’t want to do.  Kinda like the boy who cried wolf!  So, Monday morning I told him to finish his breakfast and that food in his stomach would probably help him feel better and he better hurry up about it so he isn’t late for school.  What made me stop and take notice was his immediate agreement to my statement in a dead like voice.  The agreement would have made me do a double take anyway, he never agrees with me lately.  But the dead voice was really something.  He is either turning into a really gifted actor, or he is really is sick.  I went with the sick theory.  I got out the thermometer and took his temperature.  Sure enough, he had a fever.  So his head ache and dizziness were legit.  He stayed home from school and slept.  Around 3 pm he woke up and his face was so red it looked like he had been out riding his bike in 100 degree weather.  His fever had spiked to 105.2!!  Needless to say, I took him to the doctor the next day.

If I had more then a few minutes of speculation in the doctors office, I could have really panicked!  She was very concerned about his high fever and was ready to take blood tests for appendicitis, x-rays for pneumonia and she was feeling his neck up and down for spinal meningitis.  Then, after all this, she says “before I order any tests, we will test for the flu.”  Does the flu and spinal meningitis even fit in the same category of illness?  I consider one a “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” illness and the other a “Quarantine, I might die!” illness.  I was very confused.  Luckily, they swabbed him for influenza and it was positive.  A test that usually takes 5-7 minutes to test positive was positive in less then 2.  I was relieved, to say the least.  But then reality hit.  The doctor says 5 days of of and on fever and he should stay home from school.  5 DAYS!!!  This was only Tuesday!  What am I suppose to do with 3 kids home all week?  And since we don’t want to spread influenza around the other kids can’t play with their friends either.  So there are 4 of us in the house without outside influence until Saturday.  If we get lucky and no one else gets sick, we can emerge victorious on Saturday, hopefully because we will all still be in one piece, and hug the beautiful outdoors!

Dentist Drama!

About one month ago, every person in our family had an opportunity to go to the dentist and have our bi-annual cleaning.  I have always hated the dentist.  Ever since I left home and got married, I have had one bad dentist after another.  I have had painful and bad fillings and really poor bed side manner.  But finally, after about 8 years of searching, we found a dentist with expertise, good bed side manner, and a gentle hand.  He is even good with the kids.  But after yesterday, if you didn’t know this about him and were sitting in the waiting room, you may question what you were doing there!!

Lucky for us, Jason and I escaped the dentist with no cavities.  However, Garion and Kayla were not so lucky.  We try to get them to brush well!  We have tried to teach them and guide them in good dental hygiene.  But it is like talking to a blank wall sometimes.  🙂  Not all the time, but apparently more often then we thought, they are skimping on their brushing.  We kept telling them their teeth would fall out if they didn’t brush well enough.  Maybe we should have told them the truth though.  It is almost more scary.  It could have gone something like this.

“Garion and Kayla, if you don’t brush well, then you will get cavities in your teeth.  If that happens, then we have to take you to the dentist who is going to take x-rays by putting really uncomfortable square thingys in your mouth in a whole bunch of weird positions that keep you from closing your mouth without getting poked painfully in the jaw.  Then after they look at the x-rays and find all your cavities they are going to have to fill them.  Only they won’t fill them right away.  They will make you an appointment to come back in a week or two and then leave you to your imagination, dreams and horrible anticipation for all that time until it is time to go back.  On the anticipated day, you drive to the dentist (hopefully on a full stomach because you won’t be able to eat or feel or taste anything for several hours afterward), and they lay you back in the chair and put a nice orange mask on your face.  This is the gas that is suppose to help you relax.  I works wonders until they pick up the long and incredibly torturous looking syringe that they plan on shoving into your mouth.  When you heart is beating so fast you think you are going to have a heart attack, they stick it in your mouth and tell you not to move while they jam it into your gums and wiggle it around.  All the while, pulling on your lip like they want to take it off your face.  Once they are done with the shot, they leave you alone for awhile so you can get your heart back under control and wait for half of your face to go numb.  Then they come back with big smiles and tell you to open wide again so they can drill.  That’s right kids!  They pick up a drill like the one daddy uses to put holes in the walls and they put holes in your teeth to get rid of the cavities.  Once the cavity is gone, they fill the hole with some weird stuff that looks like tooth, only it isn’t and tell you to have a nice day.  And by the way, please be sure you don’t eat anything or you might just bite your tongue off since you can’t feel it.”

I think that is the story I will go with when it comes time for Brynn to go to the dentist.  Maybe she will listen to me.  Kayla refused to let me help her brush until after her dentist experience.  Now she practically begs me to help her brush every night!  And Garion brushes for a full 2 minutes or longer now if he can spare the time.  Kayla had 2 cavities and they had to be filled on different days because they were on opposite sides of her mouth.  She had both filled before Garion went in for his appointment.  I was really proud of her!  She didn’t want me next to her so I waited out in the waiting room with Brynn and watched a movie.  She didn’t cry or whine or whimper or scream or anything.  She did fabulously.  Both times.  Although, with her increase in brushing, I am sure she doesn’t want to repeat the experience. 🙂

Garion was a completely different experience.  The funny thing here is that he has had one other cavity filled in the past.  He was in and out of there the same as Kayla.  No tears or fears and I don’t even think he knew they drilled on his teeth.  They just “tickled” the cavity away. 🙂  This time, he either figured out what was happening ahead of time, or has out grown the silly terminology the dentist uses to put kids at ease.  Again, Brynn and I were in the waiting room watching a movie while Garion was taken back to the room.  About 5 or 10 minutes later, I started to hear the screaming.  Not just one scream, but several.  After about 40 seconds of non stop screaming I decided to go see what was happening.  I didn’t want Garion to be in pain, but I was more worried about the dentist.  We have always taught Garion that it it okay to defend yourself if someone else wants to hurt you.  I wasn’t sure if he would apply this lesson to the dentist with the torture syringe.  I got to the room just as the dentist was finishing and in time to hear him tell Garion that if he grabs his hands (the dentists hands) then he can’t hold the shot steady and it huts more.  Turns out the assistant had to restrain him for most of the injection.  I retreated back to the waiting room so the dentist wouldn’t feel like I was going to hang over his shoulder.  He gave me a look like I was the one at fault here!  Pshahh!!  I am not the one shoving needles in peoples mouths!  Anyway.  The rest of the appointment went pretty well.  I only heard him one other time as the dentist started to drill.  Not as loud and definitely not as long.  Then it was over.  He had a numb mouth probably until bedtime with a birthday party to go to in the  meantime.

And we are dentist free for 6 more months.  In one year, we take Brynn for the first time.  I wonder if she will be the quiet type or the screaming type?  I am sure I will be surprised.  I certainly was with the other two! 🙂

8 years old and Baptized

Almost two weeks ago Garion turned 8 years old, and 2 days later he was baptized.  It is amazing to me that time goes by so fast!!  It makes me feel a little old to have a child old enough to be baptized!  I have not blogged about this even yet because I wanted a little while to ponder the event in my mind and really be able to express my feelings about it.

Garion was born at 5:50 in the evening on March 5th and the minute he entered this world, I knew he was special.  He has a very calm spirit that reflects peace and a certain maturity that is beyond his years.  He has always been mellow and open to our counsel and obedient to our rules.  At the same time, he offers our family all the fun of a boy!  He loves transformers, bionicles, swords, guns, his pocket knife, reading (especially Captain Underpants), strawberries, playing the Wii and computer games, camping, Pokemon, playing with his best friend Tyler every chance he gets, and traveling.  He is spiritual, sensitive, caring, obedient, learning to be a hard worker, an excellent student, funny with a good sense of humor and has a happy disposition.  He is a joy to have in our family and I thank Heavenly Father for him in every prayer.

Of course he is only 8 and is still learning about the world around him.  He is a little like an open book.  You can always tell, quite clearly, how he is feeling by the look on his face.  He is becoming independent and responsible.  It has been incredibly gratifying over the last few years to watch as Garion’s testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has grown and strengthened.  He knows that Jesus Christ lives, and knows him by name.  He recognizes the blessings he has been given in this life and is learning how to be grateful for them.  He chose to be baptized and has already made some changes in his life in the way he treats other people and the way he prays.  He does it more from his heart.

For those of you who may have questions, I just want to clarify  that in our church, we wait until a child is 8 years old to baptize them.  We believe that by 8, they are old enough to know right from wrong and the consequences of their actions.  Because of this, they can be fairly held accountable for the choices they make.  There are 13 Articles of Faith that summarize the beliefs of our Church.  The 4th Article of Faith states “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Second, Repentance; Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; Fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Garions baptism was a very significant and meaningful experience in my life because he is the first of my family to gain a testimony of  the gospel and join the church.  My mom and I joined the church 16 years ago, together, and it has brought purpose, meaning, joy, peace and direction to my life.  My relationship with Heavenly Father and the guidance of the Holy Ghost has helped me weather every storm I have encountered in my life.  Heavenly Father has given me Jason.  He has helped me to see past this life to the beauty and serenity that I can have in the eternities with my family by my side.  I ache for the rest of my family to find this peace.  To find the certainty in their hearts that they are children of a Heavenly Father who loves them.  Garion is the first and I pray he is not the last.  I am so grateful that my Mom was able to come to his baptism and share in this exciting time in Garions life with us.

I am proud of you Garion!!!

In Memory of Willow

This morning I took our cat, Willow, to the vet.  We knew going in that she might not come home with us.  She is a little over 17 years old and has had a very long and happy life.  She was deeply loved by all of us in our family.  She had a very sweet disposition and loved to just cuddle and be pet all day.  I was accompanied by Kayla and Brynn, and then Jason came for the end.  It was a very difficult decision.  How do you decide when it is time to let a pet go?  Well, she had a huge tumor on her neck and severe arthritis.  The doctor thought she had either thyroid disease or kidney disease and was possibly diabetic.  When it came right down to it, we couldn’t afford to keep her alive.  And even if we did, it was just prolonging the inevitable with only “a chance” of improving her quality of life.

We held a family counsel last week where explained to the kids what might be coming to make it easier for them.  I think they all are handling it beautifully.  Kayla was even happy “That Willow was going to be living with Jesus again!”  That is, until she saw me lose it in the vets office.  I am a mess.  I can’t stop crying.  Willow was born on my bed and has been my cat ever since.  I love her and will miss her.  Now, I know I am being really sentimental here.  I have been very open about my trials with Willow in the past.  She pooped and peed everywhere and she, combined with our other cat Trix, have turned me irrevocably into a dog person.  But that being said, she has been a part of my life for a very long time and I loved her and I miss her already.

I guess, if there is a bright side to this tale, it is the learning experience it has turned into for the kids.  Kayla asked me on the way home from the Vet if it takes a long time to get to Heaven.  I told her it didn’t take any time at all and that Willow was already there healthy and happy.  When Jason told Garion that we had put her down, he got teary eyed and asked Jason if we could make her a headstone and take flowers to her in the future.

We will be burying her in the hills behind our house.

We Surround Them

I am a huge fan of Glenn Beck, but  haven’t listened to his show for a while.  As I have said before, I had to take a break from all things political.  It appears that I have missed a couple things.  A fellow blogger and friend pointed out to me Glenn Becks “We Surround Them” plan.  I just sent in my picture.  I encourage everyone to do the same!  And for the record, I whole-heartedly agree with both the 9 Principles and the 12 Values!  Here it is right from Glenn Becks website, http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/21018/?ck=1.

Do you watch the direction that America is being taken in and feel powerless to stop it?

Do you believe that your voice isn’t loud enough to be heard above the noise anymore?

Do you read the headlines everyday and feel an empty pit in your stomach…as if you’re completely alone?

If so, then you’ve fallen for the Wizard of Oz lie. While the voices you hear in the distance may sound intimidating, as if they surround us from all sides—the reality is very different. Once you pull the curtain away you realize that there are only a few people pressing the buttons, and their voices are weak. The truth is that they don’t surround us at all.

We surround them.

So, how do we show America what’s really behind the curtain? Below are nine simple principles. If you believe in at least seven of them, then we have something in common. I urge you to read the instructions at the end for how to help make your voice heard.

12 Values

  • Honesty
  • Reverence
  • Hope
  • Thrift
  • Humility
  • Charity
  • Sincerity
  • Moderation
  • Hard Work
  • Courage
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Friendship

The Nine Principles

1. America is good.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

You Are Not Alone

If you agree with at least seven of those principles, then you are not alone. Please send a digital version of your picture to: wesurroundthem@foxnews.com and then stay tuned to the radio and television shows over the coming weeks to see how we intend to pull back the curtain.